By her father Steve
My beautiful daughter Sarah died on Friday, November 9th, 2012 at 1.45pm in the Harefield Hospital whilst awaiting a Double Lung Transplant. Sarah was married and has three lovely young children, Harry, Billy and Marnie. At the time of Sarah’s death she was only thirty-six – far too young to be taken from her loved ones and friends. Throughout Sarah’s life she always thought of others, the health and well being of her family and friends were very important to her. She would do anything to help someone and even when she died she continued with that positive thought. On the afternoon Sarah died she gave three of her Organs to other people. Her two kidneys were transplanted into two thirty year old women and her liver was successfully given to a fifty year old man – they are all now leading a normal life.
Sarah had only been really ill for about two years. Her illness started with a persistent cough. After visits to Doctors she finally saw a consultant at RDE Wonford Hospital, Exeter, Devon. He was superb and very quickly referred Sarah to The Royal Brompton Hospital. After many visits and dozens of tests it was confirmed that she was suffering from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPD). A course of intravenous antibiotics and a cupboard full of pills did not stop the progression of the disease. The only option was for Sarah to undergo a Double Lung Transplant. She was then referred to Harefield Hospital for further tests after which she was placed at the top of the Transplant List. This was a huge shock to everyone but Sarah took it in her stride. Being an extremely brave, strong person she would say ‘Don’t worry, I will get better’. However behind her optimism there was, because of her rare tissue type, the realisation that new lungs would be difficult to find.
At the end of August 2012, despite Dad telling her not to, Sarah insisted that she would walk the five miles in a charity cycle event and BBQ her son Harry aged ten had arranged to raise money for research for The British Lung Foundation. Starting off long before the cyclists it took her many hours to complete the course along with her dog Esme and best friends Aimee and Fiona as support. Sarah refused to take her wheelchair with her and helped Harry raise over £5,000 for which we are all very proud of him. Less than two months later Sarah was taken very ill. She went into the ICU ward at Exeter just before her daughter’s fifth birthday. A fortnight later, on the seventh birthday of her second son she was transferred to the ICU ward at Harefield Hospital in the hope that lungs would become available. Three weeks later Sarah’s body failed and it was agreed that the support machines were to be turned off. Everyday the courage and determination that Sarah showed remains with us and the many people who knew of her.
Sarah was an ardent believer in transplants and was on the Organ Donor Register from an early age. She started to help me at events to ‘Sign Up’ people as organ donors, a campaign I continue to do nearly every Saturday. Since August, 2012 to date we have ‘Signed Up’ 840 Organ Donors from Exmouth that excludes the many that have done it online. Sarah’s story appeared in the Daily Mail on Tuesday, 8th January, 2013 the very date of her 37th birthday. The response was fantastic, thousands ‘Signed Up’ nationally but we still do not have enough donors.
Since Sarah’s passing I have continued to keep the promises I made her. To that end I addressed a Select Committee on Transplants in Parliament only two weeks after she had died. I continue to ‘Sign Up’ new organ donors and carry out fund raising for Sarah’s charity: Harefield Hospital MRI Scanner Appeal. The biggest promise that I made to Sarah was to campaign for a change to the present outdated donor system to include an ‘Opt Out’ policy. This means continuous letters to the Health Minister and my local MP. It seems ludicrous to me that we are condemning people to an early death and depriving them of what we may take for granted; living life to the full with their family and loved ones. In Spain they have an ‘Opt Out’ system and this works extremely well, I hope that for my Sarah’s sake I will achieve this and her passing will be for a reason.